Are We Still A Free People?

There is considerable confusion over the terms “free exchange of goods and services”.  Free enterprise effectively means any business activity where goods and services are exchanged either for money or for other goods or services.  Under conditions of free enterprise any good or service can be exchanged as long as both parties to the activity are doing it of their own free will.  Note that this does not mean a monetary exchange, but one of money, goods, or services that are exchanged under conditions that are voluntary to both parties.  For example, a farmer in the 19th Century might exchange food for medical services.  The use of money as a means of exchange is not really necessary.  Thus free enterprise or free exchange of goods or services or both has existed long before the invention of money as we know it today.  Also free enterprise or free exchange (which ever term you wish to use) is performed between individuals acting as buyer and seller who have come to a mutual agreement and therefore are willing to make the exchange.  It should also be noted here that such exchanges can occur between two groups of people, so it is not limited to an exchange between individuals.  Therefore there can be an exchange in the form of an agreement satisfactory to both parties.

You will note that so far there has been no mention of any third parties to these sort of transactions.  The transaction is between two persons, two groups, who have come together in an agreement to make the exchange.  However, if the parties involved have to obtain the “permission” of a third party, then the situation changes.  Limits have been placed upon the two parties as to “what” they are now allowed to exchange.  It is now not really a truly “free” exchange anymore now that the “third party” has control over the exchange.  As a matter of fact, today many of the “exchanges” we make do involve a third party, generally a regulatory body of some sort that only allows certain exchanges to take place.  Both the seller and the buyer are therefore limited by the power of the third party as to the conditions under which the exchange can take place.  For example, you must have a doctor’s prescription to purchase medical drugs at a drug store.  The third party in this case is the government which requires you to first obtain the “permission slip” from the doctor in order to make the purchase.  Obviously there has been a serious loss of personal freedom here for both you and also in a different way for the drugstore.  Neither of you are allowed to make an exchange without permission from the government.  The government will claim this is for “your own good”, but the truth is more likely that being required to obtain “permission” to buy a medicine is to benefit another party, the doctor, who thus is allowed to charge you for giving you permission.  Realistically, the drugstore is prohibited from selling medicine to people who do not have the “permission slip” from the doctor, so in this aspect the drugstore’s owner is not really the decision maker any more in these matters, but instead the government is.  For this reason as soon as the government steps into the picture here, we no longer have the condition of true free enterprise where only the seller and the buyer make the decision whether or not the exchange should take place.

We have actually reached the condition where we are no longer allowed a choice whether to buy health insurance or not.  Under the mandate of Obamacare, you have to buy health insurance whether you want to or not!  Obviously under such conditions we no longer have a free exchange between the buyer of health insurance and the seller of health insurance.  Both effectively now have to operate under the basis of doing whatever the government wants both parties to do.  The fact that having health insurance may be beneficial to the policy holder does not alter the fact that the purchase was not his or her free willing, but was forced upon the individual.  Supposedly it is claimed that this is to prevent people from using medical services without paying for them.  However this claim is hardly justified since it was the government itself that passed the law requiring hospital emergency rooms to treat people without rejecting those who couldn’t pay for the services.  As a matter of fact, this appears to be the only “service” that a provider must provide without any right of refusal even if there is no hope of receiving payment for the service that is provided.  Even in the case of public defenders, the court awards a certain level of payment to the lawyer.  Only the doctor working in an emergency room is required to effectively work for free, although in most cases, the hospital actually ends up the “loser” in all this as the hospital has to pay the staff that assists the doctor and in many cases, the doctor is being paid by the hospital.

This brings up the issue of whether or not we are still a free people.  Apparently there is a belief that people have a right to health care services, regardless of if they can pay for them or not.  Supermarkets are not (yet) required to give away food, there is no legal requirement to provide people with housing, gas stations don’t give away gasoline.  True, there are charities that will provide the poor with some of these things.  And in the past doctors also did a certain amount of “charity work” for which they either didn’t get paid, or simply were given some sort of gratuity for their services.  However Obama has now changed things, opening up the possibility that a government that can force you to buy health insurance can also force you to anything else that it feels you should be doing…

I might mention here that it is believed by some that the Egyptian pyramids were built with conscripted labor, although it is possible that most of the workers volunteered… It does appear that governments eventually reach the point where they feel that they “own” the people they govern.  In any case we need to “downsize” government to a size where it no longer believes that we belong to it, instead of it belonging to us!



About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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